Technology helps hospitals avoid dangerous errors

August 4, 2010

The PillPick pharmacy automation system is only available in North America. The purpose of the machine is to provide easy filling and refilling of medications and accurate labeling to reduce medication errors. The robot places single doses of medication in small plastic bags. Each bag has a barcode identifying the drug. A nurse will scan the barcode along with a barcode on the patient's wristband. If the computer detects a wrong drug or wrong dose, a warning will appear, and an alert will sound.

CLEAN HANDS, CLEAN HOSPITAL: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 250 people die from hospital-acquired infections in the United States every day. During a hospital stay, people have a one in 20 chance of contracting such an infection. Two of the more dangerous hospital-acquired infections are MRSA and C. diff, which are both classified as being resistant to antibiotics. MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, but it is resistant not only to methicillin but also to other more common antibiotics like oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin. MRSA and other staph infections occur most often among people staying in hospitals and nursing homes who have weakened immune systems. C. diff, or Clostridium difficile, is a common, usually harmless bug that about 3 percent of healthy adults harbor in their bodies. The overuse of antibiotics has pushed the germ to develop resistance to treatment. The more virulent form of C. diff can cause persistent diarrhea, blood poisoning and even death. According to government figures, infections caused by C. diff more than doubled between 2000 and 2005. In 2005, 28,600 people in the U.S. died from it. (Source: MSNBC)

PREVENTING INFECTION: Experts say the best way to prevent hospital-acquired infections is by practicing good hand-washing techniques. In the largest and most comprehensive scientific study ever done to compare the effectiveness of hand hygiene products, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill looked at how effective 14 different hand hygiene agents were at reducing bacteria and viruses from the hands. Subjects first cleaned their hands and were then exposed to a harmless bacterium and a virus comparable to disease-causing organisms. They then cleaned their hands with the various agents, and after, the scientists measured how much bacteria and virus remained. The study showed after just 10 seconds of exposure, nearly all the hand hygiene products reduced 90 percent of bacteria on the hands while waterless, alcohol-based hand wipes only removed about 50 percent of bacteria from the subjects' hands.

For More Information, Contact:

Jim Ritter
Senior Manager, Media Relations
Loyola University Medical Center

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